(52) Getting Pantsed by 2020 with Ronnie – Part 1

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I’m talking with one of my favorite people, Ronnie, about how we’re arriving at 2021 differently after getting pantsed by 2020. We both share the adorable goals we had for 2020 and process our grief and laughter around those specific losses. We also talk candidly about how this year triggered postpartum feelings and what the hell to do with 2021 goals, if anything. And yes, we are both crying in this picture.

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Brandy:                 Hello, Adult Conversation Podcast listeners. Happy 2021! I am cautious, yet hopeful, I guess. In today’s episode, I am talking with one of my favorite people, Ronnie, about precisely how 2020 pantsed us all and how we’re arriving at 2021 differently because of the beating we’ve taken. We both share the adorable goals we had for 2020 and process our grief and laughter around those losses. Ronnie offers some profound insight about how to look at our 2021 goals and how to make them actually achievable, even in a pandemic, or to bail on the goals all together. There was so much to talk about in this that I split this validating interview into two episodes. So, join us for Part 1 of “Getting Pantsed by 2020.” And just a quick reminder, I’ve got a book out there in the world: Adult Conversation: A Novel. Check it out. On to the show —

Brandy:                  Today on the podcast, I am welcoming my dear friend, Ronnie. I wanted to do an episode about looking ahead at this new year while also talking honestly about how we’re showing up to 2021 differently than how we showed up in the beginning of 2020. Remember that? When we didn’t know yet. We were so innocent. A lot has fucking changed, and many of us feel stuck. Most of us are in some stage of transformation, and we need to talk about all of it. So, I wanted to have this conversation with someone who was not only an expert at being vulnerable but the person I would be having this conversation with in my life anyway. Welcome to the podcast, Ronnie.

Ronnie:                  Thank you.

Brandy:                 I need for the listeners to know that you are skilled at taking in an entire story and distilling it down into some meaningful nugget, and you do that for me all the time and no pressure that you have to perform here. You’re just really, really good at that.

Ronnie:                  Thank you. I had no idea I had that skill. That is just me simply trying to understand someone else. But I love the way you put that, so I’m going to go with what you said.

Brandy:                 I also feel like the listeners need to know that you and I met at a writer’s retreat. Some of you may remember Ronnie from the podcast episode I did at that retreat called “Best and Worst of Motherhood with Four Writer Moms.” You’re not totally new to the podcast, but now you’re carrying an entire podcast.

Ronnie:                  I’m not large in stature, but I have carried heavy things before. I feel like I will give it a shot.

Brandy:                  {laughter} Yes. Also, people need to know that we share a birthday, January 4th, which I think says everything.

Ronnie:                  Yes.

Brandy:                  We both overthink in the same outrageous amount. We both cry about meaningful shit really easily. At least one, or probably three or four, messages we send each other a week on WhatsApp have crying in them.

Ronnie:                  Yes.

Brandy:                  We also both love the Beastie Boys and have passed that on to our children.

Ronnie:                  These are all true things.

Brandy:                 So, now that I’ve said all that, what do you think the listeners need to know about you?

Ronnie:                  I think it’s really important that the listeners keep in mind that my favorite way to sort of cope with all of the unrest and difficulty that comes with being human right now is to find the trashiest reality television I can find and binge watch it while eating chocolate often while hiding from my family.

Brandy:                 {laughter} There’s a range here I’ve learned. What, for you, is the trashiest reality TV? I feel like I’ve gone trashier and that maybe you have higher standards.

Ronnie:                  I don’t know that I would call them higher. I would say that I don’t prefer the Temptation Island level. I am a more of a Real Housewives kind of watcher, and by “kind of,” I mean superfan. I want people whose lives are so different from mine and their problems are so different from mine that I can’t relate to them at all.

Brandy:                  What I hear you saying is that Temptation Island is too close to home for you. {laughter}

Ronnie:                  {laughter}

Brandy:                  Is that what I’m getting here? You would hate to watch that because…

Ronnie:                  {laughter} Okay, let me explain. As part of when you were describing us and our shared birthdays and our separated at birth characteristics, we are both very much — I’ll speak for myself on this. I’m a huge empath, and I’m a big, giant feeling. Something like Temptation Island where people are trying to fall in love or things like that, I can’t. I get too wrapped up in the feelings even though all they’re doing is screwing on camera. I have the feelings. This is so funny. I had to stop watching The Bachelor because the rejections were killing me.

Brandy:                  {laughter} You’re adorable.

Ronnie:                  I was identifying with the people getting broken up with, and I was like “I can’t do this to myself every week.” So few people come out of this with their life partner, and I’m more invested than all of them. So, I’m over at The Real Housewives.

Brandy:                 Okay, because that doesn’t feel real, totally. I get that.

Ronnie:                  Yeah.

Brandy:                  I want to start out with laughing about all the things we thought we’d accomplish in 2020.

Ronnie:                  Oh, my God. We were so cute.

Brandy:                  We were so cute, and every year I write out a list of things. It’s almost like a kid’s Christmas list about what I want to happen in the next year. Even though I’m like on the fence about the whole manifesting thing — I mean, I’m not on the fence. Ah, no. I am on the fence. Well, here’s how I think it’s bullshit. I think it’s bullshit when someone is having a hard time in their life, and people are like “You just didn’t manifest it. It’s not that you are a person of color or that you are a woman or that you went through childhood trauma. You just haven’t manifested it.” So, I hate it for that, but I also feel like there sometimes feels like there’s something to it. I think I’m riding the line here where it’s like, “I don’t know that I totally believe in it, but I’m going to write it down. If it works, then I’ve got my bases covered.”

Ronnie:                  I’ve found the same. It’s funny that you say that because I don’t know if you remember when The Secret was a big thing…

Brandy:                  Ah, yes.

Ronnie:                  My husband and I still joke about that and mock it mercilessly. It’s the same things you are saying and the victim-blaming nature of that. You didn’t make it happen. You put it out there. You didn’t believe it hard enough. It didn’t happen because of you. That’s the bullshit I can’t tolerate.

Brandy:                  That’s it!

Ronnie:                  But in the same breath, there is something very powerful about focusing your goal into a few words and taking it from the back of your mind and putting it somewhere concrete.

Brandy:                  Yes.

Ronnie:                  On paper or vision board or whatever. Scrapbook the fuck out of it. I don’t care, but it’s the idea of taking it from, “This is in the back of my mind,” and moving it into something that you touch. It’s almost like the engaging of a different sense that opens that door. There is something to be said, and there’s a form of learning — I don’t know the exact terminology for it, but it’s the idea that you hear it — it has to do with some notetaking. You hear it, you process it, you write it, and then you can remember it better. But the other way to also engage in that is to verbalize, so essentially its if you engage as many senses as possible, you take the information in differently. I’ve always wondered about when I sit down to do my “Here’s what I would like to see happen in the next year,” which coincidentally I do around our birthday.

Brandy:                  Yes, same.

Ronnie:                  I always have wondered if it isn’t something about rolling all those in together that puts an awareness in me that helps me move in the direction of whatever it is I want to do, whether I’m conscious of it or not.

Brandy:                  Yes, I think that’s it for me too. Until you sit down and actually think about the things, sometimes you don’t know what you want. It helps me get really clear on what I’m doing with my life. Last year, it felt clear. (laughter)

Ronnie:                  {laughter}

Brandy:                  If you read my little note which is hilarious because I fold it like a note you pass during class periods with that little edge tucked in so you can pull it out…

Ronnie:                  Stop. You do not.

Brandy:                  I do, and I’m holding it right now. This is the sound of it. It’s great. I have it in my bedside drawer. Mine was two pages, front and back. Some of the things on it are pretty basic like, “Maybe not feel like I’m going to shit myself as much when I’m in the carpool line.” {laughter}

Ronnie:                  Well, yeah. Yeah.

Brandy:                 Other things are more success oriented. Especially since my book came out in 2020, I had a lot of concrete goals related to that.

Ronnie:                  Can I just say for a second that I know your book came out last year, but it feels like your book came out like five years ago.

Brandy:                  I know! I don’t want to say that I’ve completely forgotten all the parts of it, but I’m doing a book club for somebody at the end of January. I saw it on my calendar, and I was like, “What if they ask me questions, and I’m like, ‘I don’t really remember. That was like a year ago.’”

Ronnie:                  You’re going to have to reread your own book. {laughter}

Brandy:                  {laughter} I know which is so painful by the way. It’s a hard thing. When you can’t edit it, that’s like a nightmare for writers – having your book published.

Ronnie:                  {laughter} It’s your dream and your nightmare!

Brandy:                  That’s exactly what it is. I had to tell you that one of the things I wrote on this adorable little “What I Want For 2020” was “Do some kind of getaway with writing retreat friends.” So, yay and boo to that.

Ronnie:                  {sighs} We’ll talk about my list, too. I was struggling partway through the pandemic, in the summer actually, with all the things that weren’t happening, all the things that I had wanted to have happen, and all the things I was missing. One of the things on there is “Vegas with writing friends.”

Brandy:                 Aww, the Vegas trip.

Ronnie:                  So, yeah.

Brandy:                  Yeah, shit. I think it was around the end of March or April, I added to my list in like scrawled handwriting, “We all make it through Coronavirus healthy and without much trauma/damage.” The overall vibe is that I was looking at it last night, which is kind of a bit painful, but also kind of funny because I was like, “Oh, this is going to be good.” The overall vibe of my list was “this is the year all my hard work pays off.” So, can we just like laugh about that for like forty minutes? I’m totally going to splice in The Price is Right losing jingle here. {PRICE IS RIGHT LOSING JINGLE HEAVY ON THE HORNS} Of all the years to think that my hard work was going to pay off, it’s like a joke. It’s like we’re all being pranked.

Ronnie:                  Yes.

Brandy:                  I’ve never had a yearly list with so many big aspirations, and then of course it’s 2020, so…

Ronnie:                  It’s even worse than a prank because I feel like pranks, when it’s exposed, you can kind of laugh at yourself. You’re like, “Oh, you got me.” And, no! This isn’t like that. This is horrible.

Brandy:                  {laughter} Right!

Ronnie:                  This is the football getting pulled away at the last minute again and again. I don’t know what is worse than a prank. I think it’s just getting your ass kicked, and I think that we are just getting out ass kicked again and again. You know when you were talking about, “This is the year all my hard work is going to pay off,” I think back to where I was in the beginning of last year and the visions I had and the goals I had for 2020. They were really solid, and I felt like I had put enough pieces in place that this was going to be a year of me getting a lot of traction and me seeing a lot of tangible forward progress. I look back on who that precious, precious little girl was, and I almost want to run back to her and put my arms around her and say “Get away 2020! Don’t fuck with her! She has dreams!” Because she’s dead now. She’s dead.

Brandy:                 Right! It’s so true. Oh, my gosh. The getting of the traction. {laughter} I sound like Borat. “The getting of the traction!” That’s the joke, too, is that for those of us — I mean, everybody every year — Nobody is like “I’d like to go backwards.” Every year feels like a movement forward, but then not only was there a sense of time being frozen in a way, but for many of us moms, we went back to what it felt like to have kids home all the time and to be a constant caretaker. That was a shocker and something that I don’t think any of us thought could happen. I know I’ve talked about it on the podcast before. It’s like my husband and I high fiving like, “Yes! We did it. Kids are in school. We made it through the hardest part with the younger kids.” Then, it’s like the joke is like, “Well, no you didn’t, and now it’s actually going to be harder because you can’t go places with them or get help.”

Ronnie:                  Yes! I did not have the easiest transition into motherhood. I had a pretty rough go with some postpartum depression for about the first seven, eight months of my son’s life. The infancy/newborn time was not something I look back on fondly. It was marked by a lot of survival. I mean, there were days when I would mark the “x” on the calendar at the end of the day. I know this is going to sound awful, but I felt like I was in a jail cell marking the days until I could be free.

Brandy:                  Yes. Right.

Ronnie:                  Clearly, I moved past that. My son is now almost thirteen. We’ve reached this kind of sweet spot where he could be left alone, and everybody was sort of regaining a whole bunch of independence. Then, it was like I was right back in that newborn phase, not because he needed me, but because I wasn’t allowed to leave. It was all of a sudden I was back in that space of, “You are trapped at home, and you will never be alone again. Someone will always need something,” because he was learning how to do school online. My husband was working from home, and we have two dogs who are just wonderful jerks. Somebody was either barking or needing constantly, and it took me back to that where I was so overwhelmed with being unable to get away and unable to separate myself. That was not really what I was trying to manifest for 2020. I didn’t want to revisit the dark days, and yet here we were.

Brandy:                 Yes, and this is what I saw from so many women online and the Mom’s Group that I host is this feeling of people being thrown back into post-partum. For a lot of women, this brings up really hard feelings, and I don’t think that’s something I saw being talked about mainstream. I know that us moms were talking about it, but I don’t feel that it’s really anything that was really being tended to because that was definitely a real thing. Especially this time, it’s hard because with the pandemic. We don’t know — there’s not a date, like, pandemic doesn’t go to kindergarten. Like doing the x’s on the walls, that doesn’t exist. We just don’t know.

Ronnie:                  Right. There’s no end.

Brandy:                 I was laughing because one of the things on my list of things I wanted to manifest in 2020 was, and I quote, “Meet Snoop Dogg and smoke weed with Snoop Dogg.”

Ronnie:                  {sighs}

Brandy:                  I know. We’re just postponing that. How am I a woman in my forties and this is on my list of things to manifest? {laughter} Maybe I need to, um, grow up a little bit, but in the same breath that I say that, I’m also going to say it’s going to be on there for 2021 too. I’ve learned nothing.

Ronnie:                  Actually, I can’t believe I’m about to be on the other end of this and tell you that you actually should keep that as a goal, and here is why. It is important, now more than ever, to do the things that bring you joy and to focus on the things that are important to you. 

Brandy:                  {laughter}

Ronnie:                  If meeting Snoop Dogg and smoking weed with him is going to bring you joy, then by God, you fucking do it.

Brandy:                 Right. I mean there’s no way this is happening, but also — not with that attitude, there’s no way. {laughter} I have to put it on my list to get it out there to know what I’m working towards.

Ronnie:                  {laughter} You have to open the door. He can’t come through if you don’t open the door.

Brandy:                 That’s right. You see, this is my fault. I’ve been doing everything all wrong. That’s why I haven’t done this yet.

Ronnie:                  You are breaking the secret. {laughter}

Brandy:                 {laughter} I am. Thank you for this. One of the other things that was on there that made me pause was I had, “More joy, happiness, freedom, and breathing room.” I laughed and then was like, “Hmm.” It’s interesting because I don’t know that there was more joy or happiness. Freedom is an interesting word because it meant freedom from carpool line, parties, social things, and obligations.

Ronnie:                  Right.

Brandy:                 Then, breathing room. It definitely gave breathing room for some things but took it away from other things. Actual breathing room without people around, no. The opposite happened. The worst. It was interesting because it’s one of those things where you’re like, “Well, be careful what you wish for.” That was one of those things that kind of went both ways. In order to have some of the freedom and breathing room, like, maybe that couldn’t have existed in the old way and in the ways of the before times. I don’t know. That’s the one that made me pause when I was looking at it and was like, “Well, was there anything on here that I actually achieved?” There were a couple things. I remember you saying that you had some things that you needed to let go of that you wrote down, I think, and that you meant to burn?

Ronnie:                  Oh, this is a great story. (laughter) I mentioned earlier that it was the beginning of summer, and I think it was because my son had finished his online school year. We were still having some hope that he might go back to school in the fall.

Brandy:                  {laughter}

Ronnie:                  {laughter} I know! Gosh, we were so precious. Then, I realized, “No, it’s getting worse.” I could feel it slipping away. I felt myself get really, really angry. I was mad about everything. I decided that I needed to write down all the things that I was missing because I was walking around this perpetual state of “I’m just going to wait and do this later.” Then I started to realize that later was getting further and further away. It was like, “I have to let this go, or I’m going to put myself in a waiting room forever and never do anything. I can’t adjust to this new reality of whatever it is if all I’m doing is pining for the old.”

Brandy:                 Right.

Ronnie:                  I’m not super churchy, and I’m like weird spiritual lazy in that I am sometimes and sometimes not. I’m a big believer in writing it down and then burning it mostly because then no one ever sees it.

Brandy:                  {laughter}

Ronnie:                  I like to destroy the evidence essentially.

Brandy:                 And being like a little bit witchy is fun.

Ronnie:                  Yes, I like to destroy the evidence during a full moon because then it looks like maybe I’m…yeah.

Brandy:                  I love the full moon part of it. You’re like, “I’m totally left brained and rational, but on a full moon…” {laughter} “And I have these certain crystals I bring out.” {laughter}

Ronnie:                  I wrote down this list, and I made this whole plan. We were going to have a little fire in the backyard, and I was going to burn it. Like two hours before that, we had thunderstorms roll through and just go all night, so there was none. I was like, “Well, I’ll just do it on a different day.” Two days later, I planned to burn it. Our neighbors were going to have a firepit. We planned to burn it, but their dog gets sick. It was like I couldn’t even burn the things I wanted to burn because it was 2020, and every time I turned around, it was like I was thwarted. Sure, I could have been like, “I’m going to burn it in my sink,” but I felt like I wanted to do it outside. I shit you not. I tried four times before I was like, “Okay, I get it. I’m to carry this burden forever. Thank you.”

Brandy:                  Oh, God. That’s heavy.

Ronnie:                  Yeah. So, I folded it up, and I put it in a drawer. Every now and then, I pull it out, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah. Remember when I used to like to do that?” Let me read you some of these. Some of these are very — I don’t know. They make me go, “Aww, you were so cute.”

Brandy:                  {laughter}

Ronnie:                  Things like, “My house being predictably empty, wandering the grocery store, running to the store for the one thing I forgot, going to baseball games, going to get ice cream, wandering in Target and letting Target tell me what I need.”

Brandy:                  Ah, yes.

Ronnie:                  Right? Then, some of them get a little more poignant. “Landing in Oregon, the first glimpse of Mt. Hood from the airplane.” That’s always my favorite. We argue over who gets to sit next to the window to see the mountain. “Feeling connected.” The last one is, “Seeing my friends in person.”

Brandy:                  {sighs}

Ronnie:                  For a little while, I couldn’t look at this because it was too painful. Now, I can look at it, and I can see that these are things, not all of them, but some of them are very important. This is almost become a list of things that some of them I will take with me. I can now go down this list and decide which of these things I want to take with me when I can move forward again. I’ll be really honest with you, too. I look at this list now considering when it was written and who that person was that was mourning these things, and even though this was heartfelt and truly where I was, it smacks of such privilege right now. There’s a part of me that was like, “God, you had no idea what so many others were going to lose.” Not to minimize the loss or the grief that I had to feel, but to more recognize that my grief was a pebble in the pond and there were so many other people around that were throwing in much bigger pebbles, too.

Brandy:                 Yeah, and you know what though? This is the hard thing is that it’s both things because there are bigger griefs. There are people who’ve lost people. There are people who are financially in ruin. There are all sorts of awfulness that has happened. When you’re feeling these things of what you are losing, if someone is to tell you that that grief doesn’t matter because it’s not the bigger grief, that is the opposite of helpful.

Ronnie:                  Right.

Brandy:                  We have to be able to have our grievances no matter how privileged they are, and also understand, like you said, in the big picture of things this is a pebble versus a rock. We still have to recognize the pebble. We can’t just move past it because other people have it harder. That matters to us. In our world, we are the main character, and that matters.

Ronnie:                  You touched on this a little bit when you were talking about the breathing room and the finding the joy and how you wouldn’t have done that in the way that you did, and I think what this list represents to me now is the loss of that comfortable daily existence that I think all of us lost at some level. Everybody lost some piece of their life that was a comfort to them. If it was a quiet cup of coffee with their partner, if it was flying across country for business, or whatever it was, there was something that we all counted on that was taken away.

Brandy:                 Yeah.

Ronnie:                  I think, too, when you said that you have both things coexisting, that has been one of the hardest lessons or hardest things for me to sort of sit with during this is that people want to try to find the good. It’s somewhat irritating to me when someone is like, “But think of all the blah blah blah.”

Brandy:                  Right.

Ronnie:                  For the first time in my life, I’m starting to really understand that there is a balance. Everything comes with a little light and dark, and it’s not to just embrace one side. It’s to embrace the entire experience. I have been trying to do during this time. Yes, I no longer have to go sit in carpool, and we don’t have to get up as early because my child now goes to school in his bedroom.

Brandy:                  Right. {laughter}

Ronnie:                  In pajama pants! {laughter} It’s crazy. I don’t have to argue about what he’s wearing because no one cares which is great because it’s one less argument to have, but he’s in his fucking bedroom. Its recognizing that none of this comes solely good or solely bad. How you find a way to let both of those take up space in your life is what I’m really trying to wrap my arms around right now.

Brandy:                  Yeah. I’m not somebody who is quick to be like, “What did we learn this year?” In fact, I wrote that piece about how ridiculous it is to even ask that.

Ronnie:                  Yes.

Brandy:                  Which is, by the way, maybe not the smartest thing if a media outlet is like, “Hey, call for pitches or call for stories about what is something you learned this year?” Maybe, don’t send them a piece that is like, “Here’s why it’s ridiculous that you would even ask that of us.”

Ronnie:                  {laughter}

Brandy”                 But I did because it was real.

Ronnie:                  Yes! It is real! I saw a tweet the other day that made me stop. It’s from a local school psychologist that I follow for a variety of reasons, and she’s talking about reading a textbook again. She’s years out of school, but she said, “You read a textbook the first time so that you can learn the practice. You go back and reread it because you can’t fully absorb it until you have learned it, until you’ve done it. Then, you can go back and actually absorb the information that you needed to learn how to do it.” I feel like, with this pandemic, we are writing the textbook as we are living it right now.

Brandy:                  Yes.

Ronnie:                  On the other side of this when there are the books and the songs and the pieces of art and the poems and plays written about this time or about the things that happened in this time, we will start to be able to understand the lessons.

Brandy:                 It’s so true, and that’s what was coming up for me. I tried to really answer that question of what have you learned about yourself this year. I really sat there like, “Yeah, let’s see. What is it?” Then, I was like, “I hate myself that I have nothing here.” This year has been so profound, and yet I’ve got nothing. I started to realize, “Wait a minute. We’re not through this, so how dare you ask me to make meaning of it while I’m still in the trauma. What a dick move to do that.” No hate on this outlet or whatever, but I know it was for a nice little wrap-up, and I’m sure that they wanted things that were positive. That’s what kind of had me about it is like, “I don’t know if they want the real real on this.” I’ve felt like making meaning of something is when the thing is over and the threat of it is no longer there. That’s when you can kind of pick up broken pieces and be like, “Oh, my God. Now that my nervous system is sort of regulating normal, what the hell do I make of this?” It can take a long time to do that, so I just felt like, “What?!” The audacity to ask somebody in the middle of a trauma, like, “How is that trauma going? What have you learned from it?” It reminds me of my birth background of a lady in labor and just being like, “So, what’s birth like?” “Fuck you! I’m still getting through it. How dare you!”

Ronnie:                  {laughter} “How’s motherhood?”

Brandy:                 In no way am I asking the question of like, “What have we learned?” But I’m curious. Maybe, this is that question.

Ronnie:                  {laughter} I like how you’re like, “I’m not asking this question, but I think I am.”

Brandy:                 I know because then when I am thinking about it, I’m like, “Ugh, maybe this is?” How are you different in 2021? What is on your mind as we move into 2021? What has changed about the list? Who we were when we made that list last year, how has your list for this year different? Is that the same question? Is that like asking you, “What great big takeaway that’s now going to change everybody’s life and your life, and you’re going to create an online course because it’s so wise…”

Ronnie:                  Right. This is all happening by the way. It is the question, but you’ve worded it in such a way that it no longer quite so, “You need to make happy meaning out of this right now.”

Brandy:                  Hmm, okay.  

Ronnie:                  Which I think is important, but I will say this. This is actually what I may be learning from 2020. Everything became intentional this year. You couldn’t do anything without thinking it through.

Brandy:                 Ah, which I hate because some of us, and I think you are included, live like this anyway.

Ronnie:                  {laughter} I didn’t need help overthinking! I’m already doing it.

Brandy:                 Right! I mean, it’s so cruel. It’s like, “Hey, you were already overthinking, but now you have to think about like vectors. Now, vectors are a thing.”

Ronnie:                  Right. “Yes, but I’m going to give you ten more things to overthink about, and one of them could kill you and your family.”

Brandy:                 Exactly.

Ronnie:                  I’m very aware that whatever I put down for 2021, I need it to be something that I am willing to devote time to and willing to devote effort to no matter what comes because what I learned for my list in 2020. I had originally hoped to have the manuscript of my memoir at a place that I was ready to have readers and maybe be starting to search for an agent by this time this year. I was going to buckle down and make that happen. I had everything lined up for that. I’m nowhere near that, but I’m closer. I’ve fought for every minute and every hour that I’ve found time to write in the past year.

Brandy:                 Ugh, yes.

Ronnie:                  That is something I will take because I am willing to fight for that. I don’t know that I’m willing to fight to wander the aisles of Target and let Target tell me what it wants me to have.

Brandy:                  {laughter} Right.

Ronnie:                  But what I am noticing is that I am much more aware of what are the things I am willing to do in the middle of a fucking pandemic no matter what. Those are the things that deserve my energy going forward.

Brandy:                 Yeah. You know what? That is such a good point which is sort of a distilling of the list. Then, I’m like, “Maybe my wanting to meet Snoop Dogg and smoke weed with Snoop Dogg maybe doesn’t get on the 2021 list if we are looking at it this way.” I mean, I still feel like it gets added, but you bring up a good point. What are we willing to do even in a pandemic and even when there is no guarantee of outcome?

Ronnie:                  Right. I feel that if 2020 taught us anything or is trying to teach us if you want to look at it that way — let me rephrase that because I don’t think 2020 is trying to teach us anything. I think 2020 is just trying to fuck with us. One of the things I have learned about myself through this is how very little control I have on anything outside me and how little I actually like that, frankly. Second of all, that’s almost a little freeing to realize that there is a much smaller sphere of influence that is actually mine and that I can focus my energy and my time to do the things that are my responsibility. I don’t have to worry about all these other things because they are not guaranteed. I can’t control that.

Brandy:                 That’s so true. When I look back at 2020’s list and I look at all the outcome-focused things that I have on there and a lot of them are related to my book, it’s like going forward, you’re right. Most all of those things are not in my control. I can work towards those things, and I can put energy in the areas that would move forward for that, but I think taking away the outcome or the expectation is, like you said, I think it’s freeing.

Ronnie:                  Yes.

Brandy:                  I think it takes away the expectation, almost like The Secret kind of stuff, that that’s even in our control.

Ronnie:                  Right, and I think for me it took the rug getting completely ripped out from under me for me to realize exactly what I can and can’t do. I can write this book and get it to whatever point of I say, “Done,” and it’s done. I can’t make a publisher buy it, but I can write it. Instead of me saying, “I’m going to be a New York Time’s bestselling author. Oprah’s going to call me,” and all of that…

Brandy:                 I know nothing of those sorts of wants.

Ronnie:                  You know nothing of those dreams. Nothing. I’m now like, “Okay. My part ends here. My job is to get it here, and let it go.” That is not something I’m particularly good at, so that’s been fun. It’s interesting, too, because as I mentioned, at some point, my child hopefully, someday will leave this house — like grow up and leave perhaps with manners. {laughter} I don’t know. That is also where I will have to let go. I am learning where I need to take it and where I need to put down whatever it is I am carrying and say, “This is where mine ends.”

Brandy:                 This is like really profound. I don’t know if the listeners are feeling it like I am, but I think it’s the difference between, like you said, something on your list like, “My book becomes a New York Times’ bestseller and Oprah calls,” versus, “I get this book or whatever thing you are working on whether it’s something artistic, creative, businesswise, raising kids, or whatever it is get it to a point that when it’s time to let it go to see what it does, I have done the best job that I can do.” That feels different.

Ronnie:                  It also doesn’t necessarily feel good because I want to control the next part too.

Brandy:                 Oh, of course.

Ronnie:                  I want to do all that. {laughter}

Brandy:                 Totally, but then when you go back and you look at your list the next year, that’s an achievable goal. This is where this is interesting to me because it’s like on one hand in The Secret, it’s like, “Say all the things you want. Manifest everything.” I have to laugh because in that movie there was that rich white dude who had a vision board and there was like a Ferrari on it, and I’m like, “Oh, great. This is just great. This documentary is about using this for some spiritual thing, and he’s like ‘No, I just want gold chains and a car.’”

Ronnie:                  Right. {laughter}

Brandy:                  I love that this has turned into dragging The Secret.

Ronnie:                  {laughter}

Brandy:                  {laughter} I mean, not totally because this is what we’re doing.

Ronnie:                  {laughter} I do it all the time.

Brandy:                 But this is what we’re trying to figure out. Some of these really big, big things that are outcome-focused, if we set our goal to that, it’s likely not achievable. Then, when we come back the next year and go, “Well, what on my list worked out,” it’s like, “Oh, none of it because I wanted Ferrari’s and gold chains and bestsellers and whatever. World domination and a house in Maui.” It’s all of these things that are like, “Well, I guess that didn’t happen,” but with what you are talking about with having the list reflect the things that you can control, then that’s a list you can go back to and be like, “Yep, I did that. Yeah, I did that. I did that.” I like that. I feel like that’s going to change how I approach my 2021 list which is the whole reason I wanted you to come on the podcast because I wanted to talk through this. Check and check.

Ronnie:                  And we’re done here. {laughter} Here’s the other piece of that though because I don’t want you or me to sell our dreams short. So, here’s where I’m at.

Brandy:                 Oh, right. Yes, let’s overthink it.

Ronnie:                  Let’s overthink it really hard, and if I concentrate, I can maybe make myself cry, too, so let’s see. {laughter}

Brandy:                  {laughter} Okay, I agree.

Ronnie:                  There are the concrete goals or things that I will be apparently willing to do during a pandemic, like continue to work on my book kind of thing, but there are also the dreams. I think it’s important to have those dreams too. I still have that bestseller dream, but I’m not putting it as something that is on me. I have to get the manuscript written. Then, I can maybe have that dream come true, but that dream is outside of my — it’s not part of my list. It’s part of my dreams.

Brandy:                 Right.

Ronnie:                  The last thing I want coming out of this is for all of us to be like, “Next year, I’m going to organize the kitchen.” I don’t want people making safe goals. I think we’ve been safe enough. We still have to dream. For God’s sake, we have to dream. It’s all we have right now.

Brandy:                  Join us next episode for the continuation of this conversation where Ronnie finishes her disclaimer about not dreaming too small, and we get clear on how to pursue different types of goals. We also talk about the feeling of collective stuckness, a surprising pandemic insecurity that popped up for me, the reshuffling of friendships (and how we found our ride or dies), and what small moment is giving me hope and perspective for the future. Also, an update about Ronnie’s list burning. Did it happen?

Brandy:                  If you are enjoying this podcast, please subscribe or leave a rating or review. If you want to show your love in a deeper way and would like to support a mom on her side gig which sometimes feels more like a main gig — Hi, me — go to http://www.patreon.com/adultconversation. Thank you to all my beloved Patreon peeps who help keep this podcast alive. As always, thanks for listening.

** As always, thank you to Scott Weigel and his band, Seahorse Moon, for providing me with that jaunty intro and outro music. You guy are awesome. Check ’em out on iTunes.